Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Dragon Age: The Silent Grove by David Gaider, Alexander Freed and Chad Hardin

Dragon Age: The Silent Grove that comes out today is one of those graphic novels that take the reader on a long but beautiful journey into the not so bright worlds of the creators’ imagination.

In this dark tale one can find just about everything, apart from romance, but maybe that’s to come in a future volume.

This is the story of King Alistair, an unwilling King, and his quest to discover the whereabouts of his missing father, King Maric. Alistair never wanted to be a king, he wasn’t supposed to be one either and he: “never asked for an easy life – fruit every morning, servants cleaning my feet, bedclothes free from crawling things.  I certainly wasn’t raised to expect it.”

Why not? Because his mother was nothing but a servant. As for the rightful heir to the throne, King Cailan, he died a decade ago. But can a reluctant king be a good king? Well, perhaps he can, since for the past few years his homeland, the nation of Fereldin had known an unprecedented period of stability and prosperity. That, however, was not enough to make Alistair happy.

And now, for the first time in years, he may at last have a chance to set things straight, for one and for all, as he receives some information about his father. In order to find out more he has to travel to the northern port city of Antiva. Instead of ordering an army to follow in his footsteps, or take along some faithful soldiers, he decides to hire a ferocious and beautiful woman that goes by the name Isabela, who’s a pirate, and her traveling companion, the dwarf Varric Tethras, to accompany him.

Antiva though is not going to be their final destination, since once there they receive yet another piece of info, by Prince Claudio Valisti, a man with an agenda, that will first lead them to Velabanchel prison and then forwards to the Silent Grove, an enchanted place, where they are destined to meet Yavana, the Witch of the Wilds, and confront their worst foes and fears.

During the long journey the authors and the illustrator, do a great job in describing to the reader how Alistair, the center of this special universe, feels at any given moment, and what one sees is a sad man. What can he do to get over his melancholia? Is it possible for him to embrace his destiny? Can he depend on anyone else but himself? And can he remain true to his purpose from beginning to end?

This is a story of quite a few twists and turns that keep it going unperturbed from the first page to the very last. The passions of the protagonists come alive on the page, through wonderful words and beautifully drawn images, which make us empathize with them. And if there’s a message in here it’s this one: people can sometimes pleasantly surprise you, as they, for better or for worse, surprise Alistair.

If you love fantasy you will love this graphic novel.

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